Photo courtesy of Bo Wong

From fish that change sex so they can mend a broken heart to birds with three distinct types of males, it appears that world around us is far more extraordinary than we could have imagined. This website is a digital archive of the stories collected by artists, curators, scientists and more.

We are actively looking for new stories and collaborations to add to our archive. If you would like to contribute stories, comments or suggestions please feel free to participate. Fill out the contributor’s form or send your examples to Weisman Art Museum’s Curator for Creative Collaboration Boris Oicherman, boris@umn.edu

Participate

The Artwork

Originally exhibited in 2018, Biomess is an artwork created by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr. Biomess features stories, artifacts, organisms and installations that investigate the curiosities of the other creatures who inhabit the environment with us.

The artwork celebrates the incredible diversity of life and they challenge our perceptions of the concepts of “normal” and “strangeness.”  The work uses luxury retail aesthetics to make unspectacular and queer life forms into objects of desire. It examines our attitudes towards, and the implications of, presenting life forms as art in a “monstrous” hybrid of culture, esthetics, and values, and acts as both a loose narrative and a critique of our anthropocentric view of life.

Artists

Oron Catts

Director of SymbioticA
The Centre for Excellence
in Biological Arts
The School of Human Sciences
The University of Western Australia

Dr. Ionat Zurr

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art
School of Design
The University of Western Australia

Jewel Beetle (Julodimorpha bakewelli)
Photos courtesy of Bo Wong
Exhibition

Biomess celebrates the diversity of life and makes non-charismatic life forms into objects of desire. 

Uncharismatic Natural History specimens, such as taxidermy, fixed in formaldehyde, and living, moving animals are presented on immaculate luxury display cases such as ones associated with top end jewelry stores. Alongside the cases an unfamiliar apparatus, housed in a deconstructed whitegoods/laboratory equipment, holds a flask with pink liquid. 

There are many naturally occurring organisms that do not conform to human notions of identity, self, gender and sex. Through biotechnology, new life forms are constructed that defy any culturally-inspired classification. In the light of incredible diversity of natural and artificial life forms, frequent allusions to “natural” and “unnatural” in cultural debates surrounding gender and identity seem entirely unwarranted.

The curators, artists and other team members  are developing the exhibition in collaboration with scientists, who are invited to propose life forms and specimens that may be included in the display. The resulting exhibition will be presented at the Weisman Art Museum.

Photo by Mike Hicks. Image in Public Domain

The Weisman Art Museum (WAM)
University of Minnesota
333 E River Pkwy
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Photo courtesy of Bo Wong
Contributors

Dr Valerie Forbes
Dean of the College
of Biological Sciences
University of Minnesota
United States

Nathaniel Omans
PhD Candidate
Tri-Institutional PhD Program
in Computational Biology and Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College
Cornell University
New York, NY
United States

Dr Lam Yun Wah
Associate Professor
Department of Chemistry
City University of Hong Kong
Tat Chee Road, Kowloon Tong
Hong Kong

Typography

Header text set in
Voyage Regular
by VJ-Type

Body text set in
Aktiv Grotesk Extended
by Dalton Maag